Maricopa County Department of Health’s weekly update last week showed 530,000 adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total to 15 percent of the county population.
But Mesa continues to lag in vaccination rates.
Though still limited to those 65 and older, teachers, emergency responders and a few other groups, 180,000 in the county have been fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.
With 23,000 doses of vaccine hitting county residents per day, half of those vaccinated in Maricopa County are 65 years or older — and 53 percent of those 75 or older in the county have been vaccinated with at least one shot of the two-dose regimen.
The East Valley is more of a mixed bag, with Mesa continuing to lag on vaccination rates.
A vaccination map illustrating those receiving at least one shot shows much of Mesa behind the curve, with fewer than half of residents eligible for vaccinations receiving shots in most neighborhoods.
Chandler and Gilbert generally had much higher vaccination rates.
Seven of Mesa’s ZIP codes were under 50 percent.
Vaccination rates for those eligible in Mesa were at 47 percent in 85201 and 85206 and around 40 percent in 85210, 85203, 85204, 85208 and 85205.
Mesa 85213 was right at 50 percent while 85207 was over 56 percent. In northeast Mesa, 85215 had nearly 60 percent of eligible residents vaccinated – the same rate as 85209 in southeast Mesa. Also in the southeast, 85212 had 67 percent vaccinated.
In Gilbert, 85233 and 85234 were at 60 percent, with 64 percent in 85295.
Gilbert 85298 was at 71 percent and a whopping 74 percent of eligible residents of 85296 have received the vaccine.
Gilbert 85297 was even better, with 82 percent of the eligible residents vaccinated.
Chandler 85249 topped that, with 84 percent of the eligible residents vaccinated.
Though Chandler 85225 was at 57 percent, other Chandler ZIP codes topped 70 percent vaccination rates.
While county data on ages show 53 percent of those 75 and older and 30 percent of those between 65 and 74 vaccinated, the breakdown on minorities is less clear. The county data shows 66 percent of the vaccines have gone to those who identify as white, with 11 percent unknown.
Of those vaccinated who shared their race, only 2 percent were Black – far less than the 5 percent of Blacks in Maricopa County’s population. And, of those who received vaccines, only 6 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino — but only 38 percent are listed as “non-Hispanic or Latino,” with 56 percent as “unknown.”
The Tribune asked David Thomas, CEO of ASU Research Enterprise, about the disparity in vaccine delivery.
“There is a proposal being developed with a number of partnerships and community organizations (for) underserved populations,” he said. “This is a high priority area as we’re rolling out new PODs (points of distribution).
“I don’t have anything I can announce, but it’s recognized as a high priority,” Thomas added.
Data released by the county on Thursday showed virus spread continues to trend downward in Mesa. Only one of three metrics remains in the substantial spread category, though cases per 100,000 have dropped from 265 to 156. Positive new test results have dropped to the moderate level and hospital visits with COVID-like symptoms are in the minimal spread level.
At a webinar on vaccinations and COVID-19 rates, Joshua LaBaer, executive director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, struck an optimistic tone, noting “The vaccines are doing a terrific job about preventing what we worry about most, severe disease, people going to the hospital and ICU and death.”
Though he stressed vaccines are not 100 percent preventative, “Good news on the vaccine front, vaccines do appear to be effective in preventing severe illnesses.” Mayor John Giles added, "Supply is an issue impacting all communities. We are eager to work with the county and the state and we will continue to advocate for easier access for our residents."
For information on vaccines and appointments, visit maricopa.gov/5641/COVID-19-Vaccine or call 844-542-8201.
To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at a state site, visit podvaccine.azdhs.gov or call 602-542-1000.